School system to prepare for bond sale

E-SPLOST, Sunday sales approved by voters

The Butts County school system will be working over the next several weeks to prepare a $7.5 million bond package that officials plan to sell by June.

Voters on March 6 approved a five-year, $25 million extension of the one-cent Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for education, and the up-front bonding of a portion of the proceeds. The tax extension was approved by a vote of 2,395 to 1,114 (68.25 percent to 31.75 percent), according to official results from the Butts County elections office.

School system officials plan to bond $7.5 million of the proceeds, backed by future tax collections, to begin several facilities improvement projects around the district in the near future. About $1 million of that bond package will be used to help make a payment due in September on previous SPLOST bonds.

Due to slumping tax collections, the system was facing the prospect of having to use local property taxes to bridge the gap between what was collected in sales taxes and what was due on the previous SPLOST bonds.

Butts County School Superintendent Robert “Buddy” Costley said the school system will be looking to sell the bonds by June, and that the system would be evaluating several proposals from bonding companies that may be looking to help Butts County Schools through the process.

He added that the school system would also be looking to bid out each project on a list of those funded under the new SPLOST program, including replacing the heating and air system at Jackson High School, roof repairs to Henderson Middle School, replacing carpeted flooring with tile at the high school, adding parking capacity to the high school, and a host of other technological and aesthetic improvements.

Costley said the voters’ support of the tax extension was indicative of the community’s support for education.

“I think this is just a reflection of the community spirit we have in Butts County, and the vision all of our parents, community members and business leaders have shown, not only for our kids, but for our taxpayers,” he said soon after the results of the referendum were posted. “We are going to accomplish great things together with this vote. As a dad, as an educator, I’m very grateful.”

Ernest Battle, chairman of the Butts County school board, thanked those that worked to promote the referendum. “A big thanks to all our volunteers,” he said.

Sunday sales also approved

Voters also said yes to Sunday package sales of beer and wine in unincorporated Butts County.

Voters on March 6 approved Sunday sales by a vote of 1,949 to 1,535, or 55.94 percent to 44.06 percent.

Sunday sales by the drink in unincorporated Butts were approved in 2010.

County Clerk Jessica Reynolds said the Board of Commissioners will still have to act to establish an effective date permitting Sunday sales. The action could come during the board’s April meeting.

The cities of Jackson and Jenkinsburg approved Sunday package sales in November. Voters in Flovilla narrowly voted no on Sunday sales in that election.

Republican primary

In Butts County, in the Republican presidential primary on March 6, Newt Gingrich received 1,840 votes; Mitt Romney collected 444; Rick Santorum received 591; and Ron Paul picked up 150.